Posts about search engine optimization

5 topics you should consider before starting a company blog

Seems like everyone and their ‘teacup’ pigs have blogs these days. If you’re not familiar with the term (likely noone reading this post!), a blog is basically a running (web) log of journal like entries – like the one you’re reading now. From personal blogs chronicling daily life to corporate blogs aimed at informing customers and building a brand, online journals or “blogs” can be an integral part of a business. But before you jump on the band wagon and start your own blog for the sake of being able to check “create a blog” off the ol’ list of to-dos, consider the following:

What are your goals and what are your reasons for starting a blog?

There are millions of websites and blogs on the world wide web as it is and we humans only have a limited amount of time to browse through content. Translation: you better have something compelling to say if you want people to read your content. Of course, your goal may not necessarily be to create a following. Perhaps your big goal is to effect natural search rankings by increasing your amount of content. Before you create your blog, deliberate on what types of goals you would like to accomplish. If your goals include some of the following, then perhaps blogging should indeed be in your future.

  • Obtain/improve natural search precense
  • Open up the doors to two way communication with your customers/interested parties
  • Build a community for like-minded people
  • Become a recognized thought leader in your community
  • Increase return visits to your site

Do you have time to maintain and post fresh content?

Successful blogs tend to be updated on a very frequent basis. One of the interesting things about a blog is the fact that many blogging platforms display the date and time that you publish your content meaning that it is easy to tell how fresh content is. I don’t know about you, but I generally have a bias toward fresh content (the search engines do too!). Based on my experience, I would recommend shooting for at least a weekly update but depending on your goals from above, you may want to shoot for more like once a day if you can swing it.

  • Do you have enough topics for creating at least one new post per week
  • Do you have enough time for creating at least one new post per week
  • How do you plan on monitoring comments and discussions
  • Do you have time for responding to comments
  • Will you write everything or do you have writers
  • How good are your writing skills
  • Can you keep to a consistent schedule

Who is your audience?

And are they online. One of your goals may be to form a community centered around your business and your offerings or expertise but if your audience does not want to interact, simply having a blog will not be enough. Knowing your audience and targeting your content to them will help, however.

  • Who are you targeting with your blog content
  • How will you perk the interest of your target audience

How will you promote your content?

Just because you built it doesn’t actually mean they’ll come. You’ll need to promote your content in ways that attract the right kind of audience. This exposure can of course come from a lot of places. Below are some places to start:

  • Display a link or snippets of your content in a prominent region of your main site (assuming you don’t have just a blog)
  • Participate in related blogs, forums, and Q&A sites
  • Participate in blog promotion and blog community sites
  • Create a link to your blog in outgoing email
  • Participate in social networking sites

Are you willing to do a whole bunch of work before you see a return?

It may be a little lonely on the blog in the beginning but nobody said this was going to be a quick and simple process. Depending on how well you promote your content and how big your potential audience is and how much traffic makes it over to your site, it may take a considerable amount of time before you start accomplishing any of your goals. Know that traffic won’t just appear out of nowhere and that you have to earn it. Slow and steady wins the race.

Writing and interacting in a blog can be a rewarding endeavor. But it can also be a huge time investment that doesn’t result in satisfaction. Help yourself out by setting solid goals, deciding on how you’re going to go about accomplishing those goals, be willing to pour in the time and effort, and you just may create success. If you’re not quite ready to move forward with a blog at this moment, there are plenty of other places to spend your time and effort to improve your site.

PPC and SEO Work Well Together

When dealing with the complicated world of internet marketing, there are numerous headaches to getting a web site noticed. Whether it is the competition or the clutter, really driving prospective customers to a site can be a hassle. Some seem to think internet ads are the best way to go, while others would rather crawl their way though the ranks of search engines to come out on top. While many internet companies search intently for the solution, the true answer is easier than it may appear. The answer is BOTH: Paid search ads and natural search optimization together work more effectively and efficiently than either by themselves.

*12.6% of conversions credited to natural search were preceded by ad clicks

*Searchers use nearly as many branded searches as non-branded searches

*Branded ads increase new visitor traffic by 12%

Some internet businesses stick to one or the other, but the truth is that they are an effective tag team for many reasons. Most companies aren’t the number one result in an online search results page immediately when they begin their search engine optimization, so while your web site climbs in search rankings internet ads keep you in the customers immediate search results.While your natural rank may not show immediately, your ad will. This supplementation will lead to valuable traffic as your ad can drive interest to your web site. Many companies believe they are done with advertising once their site has a sufficient rank. Sadly, this is not the case. Many times customers’ searches are too long, too specific, or just to general. Paid ads can help insure that your relevant page is still displayed even in these instances. Another benefit with the saturation and supplementation of both elements is it can aid in brand association, so that customers think of your product or service in a particular category due to its dominate presence in a search.

A successful marketing campaign must include both advertisements and a high ranking natural search result. In the highly competitive internet market no company should simply be satisfied with a decent ranking or clever advertisement. Using both strategies ensures that you are receiving the maximum return on your investment. – J

Search Engine Optimization – Google Speaks on Natural Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not a topic that Google discusses often publicly, so the release of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide – was met with great enthusiasm.  While the guide doesn’t give away any super secrets on how to increase natural search rankings the reader will come away with a deeper understanding of SEO, site design and even a plan of action for creating a new website or increasing the natural visibility of a current site.

Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.”

A selection from the SEO Starter Guide that I found very informative was all about “description” meta tags.  Description meta tags differ from page titles and page title tags, but are no less important. “A page’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. Whereas a page’s title may be a few words or a phrase, a page’s description meta tag might be a sentence or two or a short paragraph…Google Webmaster Tools provides a handy content analysis section that’ll tell you about any description meta tags that are either too short, long, or duplicated too many times (the same information is also shown for <title> tags). Like the <title> tag, the description meta tag is placed within the <head> tag of your HTML document.”

“Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say “might” because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page’s visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user’s query. Alternatively, Google might use your site’s description in the Open Directory Project.”

Most of the information above was taken from Googles’ SEO Starter Guide – so this is about as simple (yet detailed) body of knowledge that Google will probably release for quite some time about SEO.  For more in-depth or simple to follow directions – I would suggest you find yourself a great Search Engine Marketing company that offers SEO along with white hat optimization and flexible contract terms.

At Risk of Being Redundant; Google On Duplicate Content

Part of the job for the PPC or SEO analyst, consists of debunking… a large part of our job revolves around explaining rumors and misreads. For years, we’ve had to explain a particular twist of semantics that somehow has convinced people that if you have duplicate content on a web site, Google takes out a pen and puts a black mark by your name.

No, Virginia, there is no duplicate content penalty – at least not the way people think.

When faced with multiple pages that look too much alike, Google has to decide what’s what – why it’s seeing double, or whether there’s any malicious intent with what it’s finding. For the most part, the average website doesn’t practice malicious copying, nor do they usually scrape content from other sites. What happens is they end up with catalogs and parts listings that contain 80% plus duplicate wording, or end up with 16 different possible ways to land on the “same page” because there are that many different search options in their web catalog that will land you on the same exact item. This can cause confusion.

Google’s basic, and hopefully final, word on the subject is simple – when we find a bunch of pages that look really similar, we group them into a “cluster,” then we pick a single URL to represent all pages in that cluster. But then they do something else that the average webmaster probably never even notices.

“We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.”

Notice the absence of any pens, or black marks, or slaps, or shackles or any other form of “punishment.” They just group all “duplicated” pages and consolidate the info under one indexed URL. For the average e-commerce site, this is not a problem.

But let’s say you are one of these folks who has 854,000 items in a dynamic, database-driven catalog and all items are shown on a “shell” page that gets populated by the shopper’s query when they’re looking for their item, but because of the way your catalog is built, the ONLY thing that changes on the pages is the image file name, the price, the part number, and the name of the item. Sounds like you probably have 845,000 duplicate pages that will not be indexed individually. If you’re looking for some massive number of “pages indexed” (for whatever reason), you are quite liable to be disappointed. Until there is enough variance between items, like a longer description, or some individualized stats which also populate those pages, you stand very little chance of seeing more pages indexed – you are more than likely seeing fewer pages indexed as Google compiles it’s clusters.

In fact, catalogs that work this way violate Google’s best practices as outlined in their Webmaster Guidelines. Google doesn’t publish all this info for fun – they are trying to help us help ourselves. They say very plainly:

“Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

If you feel like your site is suffering from this “clustering” of pages that seem to be duplicated, work with your webmaster to rectify the situation and then use Google’s Webmaster Central tools to request a re-evaluation of your domain.

If you just have 16 different search options that all lead back to the same item, don’t worry about it – one of those URLs will be indexed, and that’s all you need. You’ll want to monitor your SERPs so you can see which pages make the cut so you know how Google “sees you, and keep your site map up to date, but other than that, most of us have very little to fear from the Duplicate Content Penalty…